PACIFIC NORTHWEST PORTS - Prince Rupert to offer fast, new corridor to Asia

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Leo Quigley, AJOTA new door leading to a fast, seamless, corridor for containers moving between Asia and the industrial heartland of North America is scheduled to open next year and there are shippers already standing in line, waiting to take advantage of the event.
West Coast congestion, something North American ports and railways weren’t prepared for, has taken its toll on US and Canadian industry and any new capacity – such as the new Maher-operated terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert – will be welcome news to many businesses.
Located 68 hours closer to Shanghai than the Port of Los Angeles, Prince Rupert offers significant advantages in sailing times to shipping lines that will be able to add additional trips between Asia and North America once the terminal goes on stream.
For Dr. David Fung, president & managing director of Vancouver-based ACDEG International Inc., the new container terminal offers an opportunity for the company to reduce inventories that have grown because of the delays and shipping uncertainties resulting from the congested infrastructure between the Pacific and the Midwest.
“I move containers regularly from China to Chicago,” Fung said. “In order for us to provide the Just In Time delivery that many of our customers have learned to enjoy, something has to give. In my case, I have tripled my inventories in Chicago just because I cannot rely on the West Coast’s ability to clear and move my containers quickly.
“It’s extremely expensive for me to have that kind of capital tied up in working inventory,” he said.
“Hopefully, Prince Rupert, without much local traffic, will be designed as an intermodal port that will allow the very efficient handling of intermodal traffic from the ocean carrier, onto the railway, and then off to its final destination.”
Fung said he would like to get his Chicago inventory levels back to where they were before West Coast ports ran into their congestion problems.
Another business enterprise looking forward to the opening of a new gateway to Asia is MTE Logistix inc. of Edmonton, Alberta, a third-party logistics provider that has recently opened that province’s first all-inclusive transload facility and container delivery service.
“An incredible difference”Bob Carwell, chairman and CEO, told AJOT that inventory concerns are an issue with his company. His major concern is that he sees the City of Edmonton, a major transportation hub in Western Canada located on the CN mainline, becoming a major transload point for products arriving from Asia.
“The biggest advantage will be to consignees in Chicago and the US Midwest, mainly because right now it takes something like 25 days to get from Los Angeles to Chicago because of the interchange work that has to go on with the railroads, whereas the Port of Prince Rupert will have a straight flow right to Chicago that will take about three days.
“There’s an incredible difference there,” he said.
Werner Knittel, vice-president of Canadian Importers and Exporters’ British Columbia division, told AJOT that his organization is about to release a study showing that the new Fairview Teminal will offer a competitive advantage, particularly for containers that are time sensitive.
“The economics (of the study) point out that the US Midwest is about as far as you want to go,” he said. “However, if they’re extremely time sensitive they can probably go all the way to New York and Atlanta.
Knittel said the critical element these days is the fact that the ship owner is “resonating on one business frequency,” the port operators are operating on a second frequency, and the railways are operating on another frequency.
“The big trick,” he said, “is to get these guys operating on the same frequency so they’re not rubbing up against one another and causing havoc.
“The railways are trying to go to a scheduled railway where they can guarantee you a train every day, or two or three a day; but you’d better make sure you’ve got your cars out. On the other hand, t

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American Journal of Transportation